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Victorian Christmas Carnivals - Ararat (Wed 28th Dec)

"Diamonds at the Dome"

Tess Downing dominant in Ararat

Ararat and District CC - Australian Diamond Company sponsored

Australia's richest track race for women took place in Ararat on Wednesday. Previously known as the Ladies Diamond Stakes, the 2005 Diamonds at the Dome was sponsored by the Australian Diamond Company and run by the Ararat and District Cycling Club. Previous winners include Rochelle Gilmore (1997) and Liz Williams (2002). Erin Peoples was the 2004 champion. Tess Downing was in superb form in Ararat. In a thrilling final, she took the $3000 diamond prize in the Wheelrace. She is the first rider to win the handicap event from scratch in its history. 

Diamonds at the Dome is a 'wheelrace', a uniquely Australian race which provides all competitors with an equal chance of victory. In a wheelrace, the riders are handicapped, or given 'marks' for the event. The 'mark' denotes how far in front of the actual start line the riders are provided with a headstart. For example, 150m means a 150m advantage over a rider starting on 'scratch'. A 150m mark in the 2000m Diamonds at the Dome event means a 1850m dash to the line instead of the full distance. If the handicapper assesses everyone's form correctly and does a perfect job, the result will be a photo finish between all competitors for first place........

During the afternoon, there was an intermittent light breeze which provided a tailwind down the finishing straight, but more importantly moved the air around the 'bowl', which was seasonally warm with temperatures nudging towards the late 30'C - that's almost 100'F(!). The breeze died and the temperatures dropped slightly for the evening, which made things a lot more bearable and provided ideal conditions for fast racing on the 250m track.

There were several events throughout the day and evening for the women and junior women - heats and finals. Below are the results from the various finals.


W17 1000 m handicap final 

         Sophie Ootes                           1:16:70

         Annette Edmonsen

         Lauren Hooper


Women /W19 1000 m handicap final

The 1000 m handicap was won in great style by Jodie Johns, in her first racing season.  She led from the front, as a frontmarker and with two laps to go was still about 40 m ahead of the chasing bunch. As they took the bell, Tess Downing chased off the front of the group, but Johns was working hard to maintain her lead and just managed to stay away to take the victory.  Downing's effort fizzled away and Tahlia Clayton and CarleeTaylor came through to take the minor placings.

         Jodie Johns                            1:15:57

         Tahlia Clayton

         Carlee Taylor

Afterwards Johns told WomensCycling.net "That was awesome it feels great."  Tess Downing admitted that she had had a good heat and was therefore feeling confident from the final, but said " I just couldn't make it. Everyone was spread out across the track and there was just no room to get around.  Ah well there's plenty of other races today."


Women / W19 Omnium round 2 - 12 lap Points Race

The Victorian Christmas Carnival week has an incentive for riders to enter and complete in every carnival.  There is an Omnium, which means a mix of events, with one event contributing to the overall Omnium prize taking place on each day of the carnivals.  At Ararat, the Omnium event is a 12 lap points race. 

This event was controlled by Tess Downing, who knew what she had to do and make sure that she was in the right place for each of the sprint laps.  Downing rode well, sheltering in the bunch between sprint laps, showing her face as the whistle blew to denote one lap to the sprint and then making sure that she was in the top one or two to take the points.  She sealed the victory with a first place on the final sprint.

         Tess Downing         16 points

2          Monique Hanley      11 points

3          Lisa Friend               9 points


W17 Junior Diamond Wheelrace Final

12 riders lined up for the junior diamond final.  Long marker, Chloe Macintosh (135 m) was chased by the field with Megan Dunn riding from scratch.  The backmarkers very quickly came together and from while hung tantalisingly close to the group of frontmarker's just 15 m ahead.  McIntosh, at the front of the field was working hard and was being chased by the accelerating groups.  In the last lap, McIntosh tied up badly and was swamped by the bunch. Megan Dunn took the sprint ahead of Netasha Pearse and Georgina Freeland. The time for 1500 m was 1:58:96. 

1       Megan Dunn 

2       Netasha Pearse

3       Georgina Freeland

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Women / W19 Diamond Wheelrace Final

The heats were fiercely contested during the afternoon, with the first 9 from each heat going through to the final. The first heat was won by Tess Downing (Drapac Porsche) in what was to be an almost complete domination of all the events she rode in Ararat. Her time of 2.37.65 for the 2000m was from scratch and she rode alone to sweep up the rest of the field after South Australian, Bianca Rogers did not start. Lisa Friend (Carnegie Caulfield) looked to be enjoying her time at Ararat - relaxed and smiling, but when the race started she got down to business from 35m and followed Downing to second in the heat. Third was longmarker, Jessica Lane (Carnegie Caulfield), who was off 200m. The second heat was a little faster than Heat 1 - 2.36.74 for 2000m. The winner, Esther Pugh-Uren was off 120m and took first relatively easily. She beat local, Tahlia Clayton (Ararat) into second, Clayton rode off 140m. In third was Carlee Taylor (Team O'Grady)(115m).

The line up for the final saw Tess Downing off scratch again, with Briana James (The Freedom Machine) and Elizabeth Georgougas (Bici) shortmarkers ahead of her in the first bend. Lisa Friend and Renee Braithwaite (South Australia) were also in sight - all of these at less than 50m handicap. The longest marks were given to Louise Bourke (Blackburn) and Jessica Lane, who was 240m lined up just behind Downing in the finishing straight - just short of  a lap head of her at the start!

The start saw the various helpers pushing their riders into the race with as much might as they could muster. Within a lap, two distinct groups had formed - the longmarkers joined up and worked to stay away, whilst those nearer scratch also came together as a chase group. There were some riders between the groups, who rode individually until swallowed up by those from behind. At half distance, the chasing group were still well behind the lead group and seemed to have stopped closing the gap. With 1000m to go they still needed to make up half a lap just to make contact and didn't look to have the legs to do so. Then, Tess Downing came the long way around that group, going high on the track to take the lead and with a noticeable rise in pace, she closed the gap on the lead group with 2 to go. Making contact with the back of the lead group was an impressive move in itself, but with most of the 18 starters now all together, there was still a lot to do to get through and to the front of the race. At the front of the race, Tahlia Clayton and Nicole Holt were battling for position, with others such as Michelle King (the ex-National sprint Champ) and Lisa Friend focussed on maintaining their position just behind them.  

At the bell, Clayton and Holt were still at the head of the race, Carlee Taylor had moved up in the bunch and Downing could see that there was only one way she could get to the finish line first - by going high and taking the long way around the bunch (for the second time in the race). She began her move with just over a lap to go and could be seen moving over the top of the others as the bunch went along the back straight for the last time. A huge kick in the final bend saw her move forwards and in - she crossed the line to win with half a wheel advantage over Tahlia Clayton. Third was Carlee Taylor and fourth, Nicole Holt.

Downing is the first rider to win the Diamond Race from scratch in the history of the event. Hers' was a huge effort and a great display - Downing deserved her victory and she was well rewarded for her efforts. First prize was a diamond valued at $3000, second prize was a diamond valued at $1500, third a $1000 diamond and fourth a $750 diamond.

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W17 3000m A Grade Scratch

1     Chloe Hosking

2     Carly McCoombe

3     Sinead Cosgrove


W17 3000m B Grade Scratch

1     Annette Edmondson

2     Sophie Oots

3     Alana Haandsbergen


W17 Team Sprint 

In an addition to the program, Victoria took on a combined interstate team from New South Wales and the ACT. The team sprint consists of three laps of the track for each team, with a rider peeling off each lap.  At the end of the race one rider from each team remains. The teams start on opposite sides of the track.  A good showing by both teams resulted in a win for the combined interstate team in a time of 59:92 seconds.


Women / W19 4000m A Grade Scratch

      Elizabeth Georgouas

      Tess Downing

      Kylie Howlett


Women / W19 3000m B Grade Scratch

1      Tahlia Clayton

     Denise Betts

3      Carlee Taylor


Women / W19 2500m C Grade Scratch

1     Shearer Mason

    Jessica Lane

3     Heidi Buntrock


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Photos - click on any image below to enlarge >>

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